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Expert answers questions on Hyper-V backup tools, planning for growth

A virtualization expert addresses unanswered attendee questions on growing virtualized environment tools and backup tools for Hyper-V from virtual trade show on advanced virtualization.

Rick Vanover
At the Data Center Decisions Advanced Enterprise Virtualization virtual trade show in January 2009, speaker and expert Rick Vanover answered questions from attendees during an interactive Q&A session.

Given time constraints, Vanover couldn't answer every question, so here he fields additional attendee questions from the event on (1) deploying new virtualized environments and (2) backup tools for Hyper-V.

When deploying a virtual environment in a new organization, how do you plan for growth?

That is an excellent and rare scenario. Most virtual environments are integrated into existing infrastructures that are built around physical servers. In this particular situation, though, different adjustments need to be made. I'll break them down categorically:

  • Services. What services will the virtual environment provide for the organization? Even though the technology of the day is virtualization, some applications are either poor virtualization candidates or not supported in virtual environments at all. I recommend forming a detailed inventory of what the environment's requirements are, including the operating system, planned applications and availability requirements. One other important question to ask is, "Are the applications supported in a virtual environment?" How a software vendor responds to this question is critical in terms of the direction of your proposed infrastructure.
  • Storage. Once you establish which services your virtual environment will offer, you can get a handle on implementation size . Depending on the environment's size, it may make sense to use free virtualization technologies with local storage at first and then, as the environment grows, invest in shared storage and management tools. Another option is to build a large environment with shared storage that has only 10% utilization rate at first, which equals wasted money up front. In most cases, it makes sense to use lower-tier storage initially, which requires less up-front money, with the intention of migrating to larger storage when the usage levels are high enough.
  • Networking. Determine the requirements for connectivity of your environment's virtual machines (VMs). Are Internet-facing systems required? If so, that may alter the direction of the architecture decision-making process. The virtual environment should have plenty of ports available for the hosts and separate virtual local area networks (VLANs) for each tier of applications.

    An even better practice would be provisioning networks for specific roles. VMware's VMotion, for example, uses the VMKernel network interface. Provisioning this on a dedicated interface and a dedicated TCP/IP network can segment the traffic in an optimized fashion.

  • Platform selection. Which hypervisor and management solution should you use? At present there is no established decision-making matrix for this aspect of a virtual deployment, but the needs of the organization can go a long way toward indicating which management tools are required.
Questions from the Data Center Decisions Advanced Enterprise Virtualization virtual trade show
In part one of this series, Vanover fielded questions on cloud computing and virtualization and guest OSes for Hyper-V.

Which backup tools work with Hyper-V?

Hyper-V's charge into the virtualization market has left administrators wondering how to back up guest systems. Luckily there are a few options. One is to use traditional agent backups that have historically been used with physical servers, such as Veritas NetBackup. Another way is to use a native Windows Server backup feature for VMs. Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service, or VSS, can be integrated into the backup process for VMs, as contributor Greg Shields wrote. Symantec's BackupExec 12.5, provides Hyper-V support with the Guest Recovery Technology feature. Thorough planning and research is definitely a requirement in this arena, because the backup solution you select must meet your recovery, cost and configuration requirements.

Rick Vanover, (MCITP, MCTS, MCSA) is a systems administrator for Safelite AutoGlass in Columbus, Ohio. Vanover has more than 12 years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration and system hardware.

And check out our Server Virtualization blog.

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